Motorways were initially built outside cities, and intended to connect them. Nowadays they are an integrated part of the urban landscape. In the Dutch context of high-density land use with a scarcity of open spaces, the challenge of motorway design is shifting from attempts to fit the infrastructure into the landscape towards moulding spatial developments to fit the motorway. This is presenting policymakers with a challenge, as new motorways are rarely being constructed, while urbanisation is an ongoing process. As early as 1928, Professor J.H. Valckenier (Delft University of Technology) wrote about infrastructure’s magnetic effect on urbanisation; the fact that traffic attracts buildings seems to be a law of nature. The question is how to preserve the once so carefully designed and highly valued panoramic views from the motorway. The article sketches the background of this Dutch policy dilemma. Urbanisations along motorways have led to a cluttered landscape. Policymakers, therefore, are attempting to get a grip on urban developments along motorways, to protect the open landscape.
The article provides for a definition of panorama, to provide policymakers with a basis to handle the concept of a motorway panorama. Subsequently this definition is elaborated, and a practical method is presented for identifying motorway panoramas, using GIS techniques. The article discusses the results of the identification of motorways panoramas in the Netherlands. It describes how motorway panoramas are incorporated in Dutch spatial planning. This is followed by concluding remarks. Despite the fact that this article focuses on the Netherlands, the presented method can also be applied in an international context. And although the Dutch policy agenda of wanting to prevent spatial clutter across the landscape carries a strong national connotation, the preservation of open landscapes deserves wider attention.